At Rodier we are often asked how to invest and profit from your landscaping, and there’s a good reason for it. Anyone who cares about their finances doesn’t want to spend money blindly. With 40 years’ experience we’ve seen a lot of projects come to term, and we’ve been able to advise our clients when it comes to landscaping costs. Before you begin budgeting for your next project here are some guidelines to help you assess what you can realistically expect as a return on your investment.

How big should your budget bang be?

When it comes to landscaping, we all know money doesn’t grow on trees. Before starting a project, clients often ask us how much of the home’s value should be invested. Although there’s more than one way to come up with a number, a wise investment can easily represent 10% to 30% (or even more) of the market value of your property. Of course, that’s a wide range. The reasons depend on several factors such as the condition of the site, and the scope of your project. To help you make a more informed decision we’ve compared two distinct projects carried out on two homes of different market value. All work was carried out by professionals.

From trim to all the trimmings for a $225,000 home.

An investment of 10% equals $22,500 for a home in this market. A modest landscaping project would, therefore, cover the basics: laying down a new lawn over a moderately sized terrain, planting cedar hedges and other plants, plus installing a foot path. If we were to up the investment to 30% or $67,500 on the same property the results would come closer to those seen in design magazines: a terrace, paving, planting, a pergola, landscape lighting, a fire pit and so on.

From minimum to max for a $675,000 home.

The same investment of $67,500 (10%) for a more affluent home, also represents a modest landscaping project because the area to be covered would be larger, and the quality of materials used should align with the value of the property. If you’ve in mind a landscaping project with all the conveniences and comforts, you’ll have to come closer to the higher end of the recommended 30%. We’re talking an investment of $202,500, or 30% to create an outdoor living environment for the whole family, by including an inground pool, for example. Along with the cost of the pool you’ll also have to calculate pathways, a fence, privacy options etc.

Take into account: The Market. Your Property.

Of course each property is an individual home with unique features which will influence your project and also the costs. Each city or residential sector has its own market: a home in Drummondville won’t have the same value as a similar house in Westmount. If we take, for example, a property in a lower priced market with a large amount of land (in a more rural area) it would make sense to invest on the higher end. Driveways will be longer, the lawn will be larger, more fencing will be required, etc. Another consideration: if your property is located on an uneven terrain, additional work will be required to level pathways and outdoor living areas. It’s worth mentioning, topography should always be considered when buying a house. On the other hand, a high value property on a smaller lot, in an urban area, could require less investment percentage wise to cover a basic landscaping project.

What’s your inspiration?

Each landscaping project is personal because the outdoor atmosphere you create should be tailored to the way you live. Everyone has different tastes and any reasonable investment will take in account your priorities as well as your aspirations.

For example, if you’re considering a backyard project to replace a summer home or a cottage, your investment level enters another zone.

If you are looking to sell your home within a shorter time frame, most real estate agents understand that homes with quality landscaping sell faster and command a higher price.

The Wow! first impression of potential buyers and the Now! is what ups your home’s worth.

Still, if your aim is a short term turn around it’s best to be practical when it comes to your investment.

The Payback Period.

You know what they say, time is money. If you want to sell your home quickly, and you’re investing in landscaping, expect a 20% – 50% or 50% – 75% (if we’re talking about a terrace) return on investment. Most financial institutions agree on these figures.

However, with a quick turn around a better idea might be to freshen up what you have rather than undertaking an extensive project. To get the Wow! effect at a lower cost we recommend trimming shrubs, pruning trees, and replacing aging landscaping such as evergreens that hide windows and doors with younger plants and annuals that add splashes of colour.

If the pathways are old, a simple surface clean plus replacing the joints with new sand will give them a fresh look.

If you’re talking about a medium to long term investment, over a period of approximately five years, you can recoup 100% of your investment and even more, if you consider the equity that’s built up in your home. And if trees have been planted, and matured over the years, they’ll add extra value and character to your property.

Quality landscaping is key to your investment.

When you decide to embark on a landscaping project, start off right by choosing quality materials and plants. Make sure all work is carried out according to best practices within the industry, otherwise you risk having to re-do work after a year or two.

Of course, all landscaping projects require some maintenance. Certain options can reduce the amount of time and work necessary but there will always be some upkeep required. Well-chosen plants are in proportion to the space allowed for their full blossom, allowing them to keep their shape while adding a touch of beauty to your property.

To plan, preserve and even enhance your investment, be sure to seek out the advice of a landscaping professional.

A few articles on the same subject:

Laurentian Bank – Potential recoverable value

Bob Vila – Landscaping: A good investment

Washington Post – How much value does landscaping add to your value when selling?

Change your outdoors. Change your life.

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